A reasonable response to an age old issue

The All-Encompassing Maple Leafs
July 14, 2008, 9:31 PM ET [549 Comments]

“for you continue to not only accept a bad team, but to thoroughly embrace it in ways that gorge the bottom line. Every jersey you buy; every ticket that is printed; every time you turn on the TV to watch the Leafs play, is another endorsement of the product – no matter how inept it is, or to what degree it torments you.”

Howie wrote that back in July to a writer on his blog. I mean it when i say it, I don’t mean to pick on Howie for this one, but we hear the same argument all the time. The only way the leafs will improve is if people stop going to the games. Brady says it regularly on the air. The theory is that the people who complain about the team are the same idiots who go to games, buy the products, etc. I have said for some time that the argument is crap.

Enter the Detroit Lions. The Chicago Cubs of the NFL, the Lions are not so dissimilar to our beloved blue and white. The commentary on their sports stations and in their papers is the same. The Lions will only get better if you, the fans, hit them in their wallets, embarrass them and not support them. Brady should know, he was one of them too back on WDFN.

“I understand why Lions fans don’t want to give money to this franchise. I wouldn’t want to give the Lions money, either. I understand why people cancel their season tickets and swear they won’t go to another game until Ford Sr. is no longer in charge. If you are one of those fans, you are doing a sensible thing.Just don’t tell yourself you are making a difference. You are not helping the team any more than the people who show up.”

Take the word Lions out of the above quote and replace it with Maple Leafs and the meaning remains identical. Michael Rosenberg, of the Detroit Free Press, writes a brilliant column in today’s paper. Here are some examples…again replace Lions with Maple Leafs…..

“Well, it’s time for that argument to stop. It sounds good, but it is wrong on so many levels. First of all, think of what it means: If Lions fans go to games, they are bad fans, but if they don’t go to games, of course people would say they are bad fans, too. So they couldn’t win.”

Hey, we Leaf fans get knocked for not supporting the Jays unless they are winning, those who go to the Leaf games are criticized for being too quiet…. We will never win. Hell, every paper has a story about interest in the team being down this morning despite a waiting list that will last a life time to get a ticket. Blogs, message boards are filled with leaf content, leaf mania is everywhere. You can’t rent a sheet of ice in this city at a decent hour, most house league programs are sold out or close to it.

“A lot of people assume that if the Lions had lousy attendance, they would be forced to run a better operation. But there are other possible scenarios, and they aren’t nearly as pretty. Has it occurred to anybody that if Lions fans had actually stayed away all these years, the team might have — I don’t know — moved to another city?”

The Leafs could never leave Toronto right???? Maybe not, but if people really stayed away as the geniuses suggest, MLSE wouldn’t be making the dough they are…..its a long road, don’t get me wrong. Rosenberg suggests we look at other storied franchises who have moved and we don’t have to look to far to appreciate the argument. Montreal did lose the Expos, Minnesota did lose the Northstars, Cleveland did lose the Browns…. I know the arguments why the Leafs wouldn’t leave Toronto, but never say never and you get the point.

“People are under the impression that William Clay Ford doesn’t care if his team wins. Of course he cares. Why else own the team? The problem is that Ford doesn’t know how to win. He spends money on his payroll, but he has no idea what makes for a good general manager, no inkling of how to set a philosophy for his organization and clearly does not have the stomach to fire incompetent people.
Would small crowds embarrass him? Maybe, but the man has a pretty large capacity for embarrassment. He has been a piñata for newspaper columnists for decades. Radio stations have organized very public protests against Matt Millen and Ford.”

This is my favorite battle cry, MLSE doesn’t want to win. Of course they WANT to win, the problem is their inability to put the proper people in charge TO win. Think about how much more money the teachers would make if the Leafs won the cup. It would be insane. Think about who owns this team, the owners are all media magnets, they get criticized all the time. The bad press they get over the leafs is nothing to them. The problem is that despite their ability to manage their other empires properly they can’t do it with their sports franchise.

Again, it’s nice to see we Leaf fans aren’t alone. We aren’t the only ones suffering both a lousy product and inane ideas on how to fix it. Good on Rosenberg for providing some reason to a usually ignorant theory. You can read his article here.

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